Today’s Charleston Daily Mail features a story I wrote about Appalachian Distillery, a new Ripley-based whiskey manufacturer who makes authentic West Virginia moonshine. The only difference is, they do it on the right side of the law.
Country and bluegrass music is full of songs about moonshine and moonshiners, probably because Americans love stories about people who stick it to The Man. And that’s what moonshining is all about.
In honor of Appalachian Distillery, I have compiled my top 5 favorite songs about moonshining.
5. Steve Earle – “Copperhead Road”
This song reached No. 10 on the U.S. mainstream rock charts when it was released in 1988, the last time a Steve Earle single to climb that high. Just goes to show, you never come back from “Copperhead Road.”
4. The Hillmen – “Copper Kettle”
This is a traditional folk song, song by dozens of well-known artists. I picked this version because the guy playing mandolin, Chris Hillman, would later go on to play bass for The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds. Also, the harmonies are impeccable.
3. The Osborne Brothers – “Rocky Top”
This isn’t strictly a moonshining song, but shine features pretty prominently in the second verse. It’s also one of Tennessee’s official state songs. So there’s that.
2. Gillian Welch – “Tear My Stillhouse Down”
This song is about the dark side of moonshining. Here, a whiskey maker looks back on a life spent making the Devil’s brew. It’ll make the hair stand up on your neck.
1. George Jones – “White Lightnin'”
Come on. What else was I going to pick for the No. 1 slot?